OB·JEC·TIVE / PLAN / MO·TI·VA·TION

 

OB·JEC·TIVE: / noun / a thing aimed at or sought; a goal

PLAN: / noun / a diagram or list of steps with details of timing and resources, used to achieve an objective to do something

MO·TI·VA·TION: / noun / the reason or reasons one has for acting or behaving in a particular way – the general desire or willingness of someone to do something

Determine an objective. Make a plan to achieve the objective. Stay motivated so that you can stick to the plan in order to achieve the objective.

Seems pretty simple.

It isn’t.

It particularly isn’t when there is a global pandemic that brings just about everything to a grinding halt. Objectives, plans, especially those that revolve around sport – out the window replaced by uncertainty. What now? And, what if sport is your profession?

Heidi Franz is a professional cyclist racing for Rally. I have been working with Heidi for the past four years and have seen her progress from a category 3 local racer into a professional who can be relied upon by her team to show up prepared and do whatever is asked of her.

Heidi is more than an athlete that I work with. She is a member of my chosen family. She motivates me not only to be the best coach that I can be but also to be the best person that I can be.

Heidi scored her first UCI victory last year and was motivated to keep that momentum going into 2020. We discussed her goals for the year and collectively with her team director came up with a plan for the season. She was going to have her first crack at the Spring Classics and I can say that we were both pretty psyched about that. Then COVID hit. And with it came a lot of uncertainty.

Now what?

I asked Heidi to address this. She sent me the following from Europe where she was racing, months later than originally planned and under new parameters – but racing, and doing a hell of a job at it.

———————————————————————————————————————————————————————-

Making a plan – something that sounds so simple, and then came the year 2020. “Is there a plan for ____? When are we doing ___? Will there be a plan for ___ after ___?” In this sport, the plans are non-stop and we’re always finding ourselves clinging to, asking for, and depending on them. We need a plan for everything- travel, training, packing, transfers, meals, recovery, and racing . . . it goes on. For some it gives peace of mind, knowing that things are under control. For others, a plan must be in their hands to operate. The last seven months have been a grueling lesson in how to cope with the loss of control over what happens in our lives and develop a finer sense for the things that we can control, or perhaps more importantly, let go. They could be big things that needed to be unearthed, or small things that make larger ripples down the road. In a lot of ways, the year has been a mandatory workshop in how to make some fucking lemonade with the dried up, cracked lemon seed in our hands. Or I don’t know, maybe try making some limeade for a change. 

I’m pretty laid-back when it comes to the routines and habits in my life. I don’t operate on a strict schedule based on the time-of-day. I don’t wake up, eat meals, or go out to ride at the same time every day. I do drink two cups of coffee before my day starts, forget to charge my electronics, and stay up too late watching baking shows. I know that Joe is shaking his head right now, but he understands that I like – I need – spontaneity, exploring, and letting the wind take me somewhere. I don’t need to see the whole path, to know that there is one I’m following, but I do need to enjoy the journey and occasionally venture off along the way. I like plans for the peace of mind they give me and the ability to mentally prepare, so when there is one, I stick to it. But even for me, someone who can adapt and go with the flow 99% of the time, I struggled with the wrench of uncertainty that COVID threw into our lives. 

I was in Belgium at the end of February. I had just raced my first spring classic, Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, and I’d had a rough day. I was not myself out there and I couldn’t wrap my head around it. I couldn’t focus forward and I felt scared, not confident, and pessimistic. At the time, Strade Bianche was still going ahead, and while it was something our team had been looking forward to, there was a cloud of anxiety hanging over us as we cautiously traveled to Italy. For the 72 hours we were there, the race went from maybe cancelled to proceeding as planned – three different times. I couldn’t stand it. All I wanted was a decision to be made so we could make a quick exit plan and get moving. Instead we had to wait, try not to look at Twitter, and hope that someone would take responsibility. I had a boiling mixture of guilt for not wanting to do my job, anxiety for the lack of plans, and disappointment in myself for wanting to give up – especially on a race like Strade. Every twist and turn in the road leading up to it made me hope that things would cancel, and I could go home. Two whirlwind days later, I did. When I returned, I kept a low profile, spending most of the time trying not to “think” my way into having COVID-like symptoms. I rode around Kitsap with Joe and our small crew so I didn’t shut down completely, but in my head I felt like there was no point. I didn’t see any purpose in riding my bike to prepare for something that most likely would not happen. Then came the flurry of lockdowns and cancellations.  

 

Two bike nerds off the leash

 

I started planning to fill my extra time with positive changes. I moved back to Seattle to be with my partner, Wade, my family, and near the community in the city. With the move, I had some fun projects and art to focus on, plus the distraction of consolidating two bike nerds’ worth of bike parts. (Eight months later and we still don’t have it done.) Luckily, the bikes were hung on the wall first. I’d stopped hearing about travel plans, sponsor events, and race calendars from the team, and I had an empty three month page to fill. Rather than serving as race machines, the bikes suddenly became my all-purpose vehicles. Joe and I settled on an off-season-ish approach, so I was off the leash so to speak when it came to training. The direction “ride how you feel” was almost a daily theme. Sometimes I felt like riding at 7PM to the empty beach park and back. Some days I wanted to ride as hard as I could for four hours. Some days, I coordinated “ride-bys” with Emily or Margaux around Mercer Island to stop for snack breaks on opposite sides of the road. Each time we did, we experienced a “disproportionate joy,” as Emily had called it, seeing friends face-to-face from afar. In my solo expeditions, I re-discovered roads in Seattle that I hadn’t seen since my time collegiate racing at Seattle U, blazing around the city with my friends, using the bike as a tool for exploration and mobilizer for relationships. Even doing some of the WSBA Zwift races felt like I was back at Seward Park, “seeing” everyone and reconnecting over a night of racing, and “meeting” new people. Even at a time when we couldn’t be physically close to one another, I felt reconnected. My friendships were richer, more honest, and more fulfilling, because we had the time to invest in them. The same went for my relationship to my bike. 

 

A little “family time”

 

The lifestyle that pro bike racing requires and my transient presence at home has not allowed me to invest the time and energy into those relationships, whether it’s my closest friends or those connections to the larger community, in a meaningful way. As pros, we often get so caught up in the plans, the routine, the structure and tunnel vision of a racing bubble that we compartmentalize everything that’s happening outside of it. We’ll just deal with those things in the off-season or when we get home, because training and racing takes priority over everything- that’s the way it is. I’m not someone who falls into that very much, but when you’re around that mentality all the time, it’s easy to pick it up. Perhaps that’s why I lost sight of what I was doing, back in February. I know I’m not the only one who had resulting “pandemic-sized” lifestyle conversations from that realization. Riding for the sake of enjoyment and connecting with people helped me process that “why” as I rode, and I started feeling motivated again. Not because of any hopes of racing again this year or achieving a goal. Seeing how people used their time, their health, and their positions of influence to do better for other people made me want to do and be better too. To get creative with fundraisers and ways to bring awareness to movements or organizations that need long-term support, like The Major Taylor Project, Black Lives Matter, COVID Relief funds. That made me want to get out and ride. Pedaling around the Puget Sound with my friends to fundraise and bring awareness to Major Taylor was the absolute least I could do, and I knew it couldn’t just be a one-off. Now that I’m racing again, I am trying to figure out what that continued support looks like. 

 

As individuals on a racing team, we work hard all year to be our best to support each other, on the road, in training, wherever we are. In the race, we take each and every variable given to us on the day, use our skills collectively, and piece together a puzzle. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn’t. When it works out, it’s easy to be fulfilled and find purpose in what you’re doing. When it doesn’t work, it’s impossibly hard if you’ve lost sight of that purpose. When I started racing, I wasn’t looking for success, a lean body, numbers to stare at, or Strava QOMs. I enjoyed riding my bike through the world at a speed that allowed me to notice and appreciate what was passing by. The speed on the ground is something that resonates with my pace of thought and observation. Racing for me grew into a creative expression, a unique collaboration between colleagues and teammates, and a constant adventure. It took seven months and a world of chaos for me to remember that, but I know that at the very least I can enjoy the ride – with or without a plan. 

Enjoying the ride

 

Post-script: On October 18 I woke up early to watch what was going on at The Ronde van Vlaanderen being held six months later than originally scheduled. And what did I see? – Heidi in a group of seven with the words “Tête de la course” underneath – the head of the race.

Fuck yeah!

She spent 100km at the front of the race, and not just any race but The Tour of Fucking Flanders!

This is the message she sent me shortly after the race:

“Well damn. That was epic. No. Scratch that. That was a fucking dream come true kind of day”

Enjoy the ride. Because you never know – those lemons might just make some excellent lemonade.

SCHRÖDINGER’S FEELINGS

In March and April there was a lot of social distance from friends and usual riding partners such as Heidi. pic by EA

What happens in a year when organized rides and races are cancelled or postponed due to a global pandemic and how do you maintain motivation to train when your objectives may not be that clear anymore? I addressed this in the previous post from my personal and professional perspective. I also asked a couple of the athletes that I work with to put down their thoughts on this issue from the past few months. Below is Emily Alexander’s perspective. I started coaching Emily in the Fall of 2014. She is now the most “tenured” of the athletes that I work with and I am honored to also call her a friend.

Emily has come a long way in the past six years both physically and psychologically. She has had a number of light bulb moments of understanding such as getting to know the flow in a race or the purpose of a workout or how to push just a little bit more. Last year was especially exciting for a number of reasons. One in particular that I was psyched to see was that she was able to leverage personal achievements into helping her team mates on her local team. Now instead of just trying to finish races she could have an impact on them and help her team mates race more as a TEAM and not just as individuals riding around in the same jerseys. I was psyched to see her confidence building and was looking forward to what 2020 had in store for her. We mapped out a plan for some of her objectives over pizza and a few cocktails in January. Some challenging group rides followed in February and then the first race happened in March. This first race did not yield the team result she and her team mates were hoping for but it did provide a great teaching opportunity and it was a start that showed potential for the rest of the season.

And then the second race the following weekend was cancelled because of this thing called COVID-19. Then the next race was cancelled, and the next and then the entire season.

Now what?

I will let Emily take it from here.

 

SCHRÖDINGER’S FEELINGS

I put my thoughts and feelings into boxes. Sometimes I do this to hide them away or protect them, but more often it’s to see if they can withstand the isolation thus allowing me to be ambivalent about the things I don’t want to deal with – feeling hard or heavy – until the next time I open the box. In April, that’s what I did with the idea of being a bike racer.

Being a bike racer – or being dedicated to the pursuit of anything at a high level – is a selfish endeavor. Rationally, I know making decisions that are in my self-interest are not a bad thing – I have become relatively secure in my work, routines, and friendships through such decisions. But I have now had half a year to consider how much my commitment to training and racing has allowed me to avoid and ignore boxes full of personal perceived inadequacies.

I have allowed personal relationships to flounder because I haven’t given them the time and attention they deserve. I have remained in unfulfilling professional situations because they fund my lifestyle and hobbies. While I have been a willing participant in these behaviors, it is in the void left by the loss of a race season that has torn my vision from my head unit. Entranced by efforts and intervals to take in my surroundings – I find myself unsure whether I have been the way I want to be.

I found bike racing during a time of massive change in my life – I had moved across the country to a city with a very different social culture than where I grew up, where I didn’t know anyone. I was in a long-distance already-failed-relationship with a guy I thought I was in love with and eventually – through meeting the criteria of always “being there” – would still share a collective future. Bike riding and subsequently bike racing became my way into a social group I wanted to associate with and my way out of sitting at home pining and leaning on other, more destructive habits.

I don’t regret the choices and perceived “sacrifices” I’ve made. They have led me to a cadre of friends that are the closest I’ve had since elementary school – people I think of first when I’ve thought of moving for a job change. They have introduced me to acquaintances, coaches, and mentors – like Joe – who I now look to for guidance regularly. They have made me ask – unfairly or not – if the potential partner I’m considering is someone I want to bring into any of those circles. But I also realize I have been using bike racing to escape from my proverbial “house” when the curtain or – on rare occasion – a whole room catches fire – providing me a quick escape. To return later and retouch the damaged sections – hiding singed walls behind fresh paint, a method that worked well until March of this year when the whole house almost exploded.

 

Family and friends from across the country all wanted to know “what was going on in Seattle” – pic by EA

 

During that time, the whole world was on fire. My work was stressful – the price of our commodity plummeted, and our supply chain was holding on by fraying threads as we watched consumers panic buy and then panic yet again when shelves were not restocked in a suitable time frame. My social life was stressful – my small group of friends suddenly isolated from each other by a “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” Order. My family and friends from across the country all wanted to know “what was going on in Seattle”. All of this, on top of the possibility of still racing later in the year. That possibility should have felt like a grounding force, but it was a grounding rod that attracted all the stress-energy and sent it straight to the foundation.

In January, Joe and I had a season planning meeting over pizza and whiskey. Talking through my overall goals for the year, the events in which I wanted to compete, and how we were going to approach managing fitness to target competing in LeadBoat in Colorado in mid-September. We started calling it “Grand Scheme 2020” and it was going to be one of the longest and most diverse racing calendars I had yet to experience.

Then in March, as the first races and events were getting postponed – and then cancelled – I was everything but excited about riding my bike at all. I spent most nights sleeping on my couch where I would fall asleep shortly after starting a movie too late in the evening that was usually preceded by a glass – or three – of whiskey to wind down from the day. I was spending so much time thinking that even “mindless intervals” weren’t working because they were no longer that. The thing that once allowed me to “check out” for a bit became the thing that was making me even more neurotic. I was in my head more than ever – caught in my house, panicking while trying to pull open a door that needed a push.

I didn’t know how to tell Joe that inside I was struggling more than I have in a long time. The race season’s potential was still out there, just hanging, and I didn’t know how – let alone want – to keep my racing mind sharp when everything else in life felt so consequential. It was during this time that I started asking why I thought bike racing was so important? It is not my job; it is a hobby. There is no reason to do it other than I like doing it – or I thought I did. It wasn’t until after all of my races became canceled that I finally heard Joe telling me the door I had been frantically pulling at needed a push, and on my way out the door, the idea of being a bike racer went into a box, mostly.

 

When your friends decide to ride 200 miles in one day around the Puget Sound to raise awareness for the Major Taylor Project you join them. Pic by EA

 

I’m not “training” anymore; I’m riding and finding the things that fill my soul with hefty pours of fulfillment and contentment without comparison. To give those the time and space they need – they deserve – I’m going with the flow of the current situation. I need some structure to respond to, so I still see a workout in TrainingPeaks almost every day. Rather than “prescriptions” I know that these are mainly suggestions that Joe is making – and they vary based on how I’m feeling or if I decide on a week’s notice that I want to climb half the height of Mt. Everest or ride 200 miles in one day with friends. They offer the safety net – old habits die hard – of some mindless effort to still want to jump when everything else feels overwhelming.

I still fight with myself around my perceived obligation to “do the workout” while following even a loose training plan. For example, I spent 3 hours convincing myself it was OK that I wanted to go for a hike instead of a long ride a couple of weeks ago. It’s through these moments – while sometimes uncomfortable – I’m finally learning, as with my relationships, just because I love something doesn’t mean I have to like it all the time.

 

View from a trail, the Olympic Adventure Trail specifically. Pic by EA

 

At the end of April, I started experiencing riding – and life – in a new way. With encouragement and nudges from Joe, I embraced going for rides I would have never considered due to training or the racing calendar. I started taking whole days off the bike for the first time in months, so that I could make and spend more time (even physically distanced) with friends, or go for hikes I’ve never thought to do before. And then – one by one – carefully opening boxes of thoughts and feelings left shut and actively ignored for years. Always a little timid after all this time, but more prepared to wrestle with whatever I might find inside.

I started to check on my idea of being a bike racer recently. Peeking in the box now and then and taking pieces out to play with. Feeling the life within the parts that I do allow myself to touch so that I can understand what I want to keep and come back to when racing does inevitably return. Because until I open it up again – and open myself up to it – I won’t know.

 

WHAT’S THE POINT? – PART 1 – MY PERSPECTIVE

photo by Vince Rockwell

Since you are here you already know I run a coaching company that specializes in working with cyclists the majority of whom are training in preparation for specific events.

 

But what happens in a year when organized rides and races are cancelled or postponed due to a global pandemic? How do you maintain motivation to train when your objective might not be that clear anymore?

 

I have a few perspectives on these questions, professionally, as a coach and team director and personally as an individual who also takes part in organized races and rides. I have had many conversations about this with a number of my athletes – a couple of whom I asked to address this from their perspective and will be posted here in the days to come. But to start things off, this is from my vantage point, professionally and personally and how both of those have intertwined these past few months.

 

Since 2009 I have spent the majority of my time traveling to races to work as a sport director. It was sport directing that led me down the path of coaching. From 2009-2012 I was the director for the Hagens-Berman Domestic Elite Team. Since 2012 I have done contract work for the U.S. Junior National Team in Europe and Asia as well as working domestically for both amateur and professional teams in need at a number of high profile races. This year I was tentatively scheduled to head to Europe in the spring for the Junior Peace Race and then again later in the summer for a kermesse block. The pandemic changed those plans and I found myself at home for the longest stretch of time in over a decade.

 

With real life racing and group rides firmly on hold if not cancelled, I encouraged my athletes to try virtual racing on Zwift and since I try to lead by example I did the same. The local association set up a series to take the place of the normal weekly training races and I jumped right in. Over a 10-week period I was often “racing” twice a week. I was also asked to join a local Zwift team, Seattle United, to take part in some virtual races with teams from other countries that were live streamed. All of these virtual races kept me focused. I found myself in the top 5 in the local series, which was motivating, and when I was “lining up” as a member of Seattle United I wanted to be able to contribute to the team so I planned accordingly. I was able to get into a “race day routine” and get a hell of a workout. The best part being that all I had to do was walk into my garage to take part. It was fun. The Seattle United team is a great group of guys that I probably would not have had the chance to get to know otherwise. Plus I was able to bring a couple of athletes that I coach onto the team. Since we use a Discord channel I was able to talk a couple of them through some tactics during the race – just like I would have done at the weekday races that were not an option this year. There are also some nuances to racing virtually and if you are not able to wrap your head around them you will most likely be frustrated with the outcome. This required some research into courses and best equipment options – something that you should be doing for “real” racing which provided another teaching opportunity on the aspects of preparing for an event.

 

I also took advantage of the time at home to explore some areas on the Olympic Peninsula on my gravel bike and to do some rides that I had not done in the past 15 years including riding Hurricane Ridge and Rainier. That part has been fantastic. There are roads on the Peninsula that I had no idea existed even though I have lived here for over 17 years. I have been able to expand my map in my own back yard, which has been pretty cool.

 

On a more personal note, the other part of being at home rather than traveling is that I decided to abstain from alcohol for a month – which turned into four. I wasn’t trying to earn a coin or anything but there were some “events” during the past year where I was letting myself over-indulge a little too much (both at home and during some of my travels). I have been described by a few that know me best as having the capacity to go either zero or 100 mph in certain things. Well there were a few too many times that I went full throttle and I wasn’t thrilled about how I felt the next day (and often the next). And although fun in the moment there were times when I know that behavior had a negative impact on relationships that I cared about. I thought a lot about it over the past few months and I have a working theory that I am what you might call an “over-indulgence addict”. Belgian beer, Italian wine, chocolate, a good steak – if it tastes good I am all in – and quite often it was all of those things at the same time. The same goes with music, if it sounds good and I am in the mood, crank it up to eleven and keep the playlist going. If I feel good riding – ride more, skiing – same thing. The problem is that many of those things don’t contribute to success in the others so I decided to eliminate the one that I am pretty confident was the most detrimental for a month. One month turned into another, then another and another. It wasn’t that difficult. I felt better and was the lightest I have been in I-can’t-remember-how-long-ago. As a result of that and all of the Zwift racing and exploration I found myself riding and feeling the best on a bike that I have in years. And that positive feedback on a bike still matters to me even if I tried to tell myself that it didn’t anymore.

 

Professionally I believe that the past few months have allowed me to hone some skills that have made me a better coach for my athletes. There have been many more conversations centered around motivation and drilling down into the “why” of training. Yes there are sport oriented goals, and for a few athletes it is what they do for a living and they need to be ready to do their job as best they can when called upon. But even for those that do this sport as a profession, it doesn’t end there. Sport, especially endurance sport is more than just the physical. The psychological component is critical to success in the efforts within the sport but maybe more importantly in the efforts in life. My friend Mark stated it best when he wrote,

 

“I have said it many times now but I’ll repeat it, the lifting and sprinting and breathing is the easy part. Applying the lessons you learn under that stress or by coming out the other side of it to life outside of the gym or the sport is all that gives the training value. I say fuck training for body composition, for the purely and merely physical. I say “Hell yeah!” if training opens doors to opportunities you never believed you had access to before…” – Mark Twight, Origin January 17, 2016

 

As I write this, the world is figuratively – and in some cases, literally – on fire and still in the midst of a global pandemic. What is the point of the training that I am doing for this sport or any other? Why do I need to maintain motivation to keep up all of this training? At the end of the day nobody else really cares that I won some artificially contrived competition be it in a virtual or real life race or that I took a local Strava KOM or even won the sprint at the end of my local group ride. That’s right, no one cares, except me (and maybe a few of my friends). And that’s ok. But if as a result of pursuing those objectives I am also building the capacity and the resiliency to withstand the shit storm that life throws at me – well ultimately – that is the point.

 

HEIDI FRANZ SECOND ON STAGE 6 AT ARDECHE!

 

Congratulations to Heidi Franz on her second place on today’s Stage 6 of The Tour Cycliste Féminin International de l’Ardèche – a UCI 2.1 and her first European podium! Check out the race report over at Rally Cycling here.

Independence Day Roll

Red. White. And Blue.
With Heidi Franz.
pc: Emily Alexander

Redmond Derby Days Bicycle Race – 79 years and …..no longer counting.

Redmond Derby Days Festival and Criterium – Turn 1 Action photo by Dennis Crane

 

Big Checks, Champagne and Flowers – Pics of just a few of TheDerby Days Criterium podiums including 2013 when then junior and now current World Tour Professional Logan Owen took the victory and the big check in the P1/2 Men’s Race and 2015 when junior Chloe Dygert won the P1/2 Women’s Race just a few months before winning the Junior Women’s Road and Time Trial World Championship on home soil in Richmond.

 

A big shout out to Castelli USA located just down 1-5 in Portland for providing winner’s jerseys for all categories and some sweet schwag too!

 

 

“After a lot of analysis and deliberation, the City of Redmond has decided to cancel the Criterium in 2020 and beyond…We have done a very deep dive into the costs and the needs of the city as a whole. While some of it comes down to cost, it also comes down to the shifts in the city….”

 

This was in an email that I received a few weeks ago from the City of Redmond. Just like that, another bike race has disappeared from the local racing calendar.

 

Last year marked the 79th edition of The Redmond Derby Days bike race. There will not be an 80th. It has evolved from its original form over the years, but it has always been a constant. Until now.

 

The Redmond Derby Days Criterium was the first race that I participated in when I moved here in the summer of 2003. It was the last race my parents ever watched me do. I raced in it every year between 2003 and 2011 at which point in 2012 I took over as technical director. In my years as technical director current and future National Champions, World Champions, Olympic medalists and World Tour Professionals have raced at Derby Days (I am sure this was the case in the many years prior to my taking over the reins). Though I typically prefer races of a longer and hillier profile I always looked forward to racing Derby Days and when I took over as its technical director my enthusiasm for the event increased. Much of that enthusiasm was specifically because the City of Redmond was very easy to work with, particularly during my first few years overseeing the race. I feel like we were always able to produce a very good, quality product for the members of the PNW racing community, even with several city staffing changes in the past few years. Last year’s Pro 1-2 men’s race was one of the more exciting editions that I have witnessed with a field of over 80 racers and made especially exciting with World Tour Professional Logan Owen making an appearance.

 

Winner’s jerseys, flowers, champagne, giant cardboard checks, and lots and lots of cash (including those huge gambler’s primes) became synonymous with Derby Days. I had a hell of a good time putting this race on for the past eight years and was really looking forward to what would have been the 80th edition this year. To say that I am super bummed to see it go would be an understatement.

 

I want to give a special thanks to Castelli for their unwavering support of the event for the past eight years. They provided merchandise prizes and some of the most unique looking winners’ jerseys I have ever seen. And to the City of Redmond – I and the greater Seattle cycling community are forever grateful to them for its support of Derby Days over the years.

 

It will be missed.

Wheels In, Wheels Out – A rant on taking responsibility and controlling something that you can control.

Spare wheels. Marked and in wheel bags for easy identification.

“Neutral” spare wheels are used for this event. Wheels you bring may be issued to other riders in the event of puncture during the race.”

 

This statement is on the website of a local bike race. My immediate thought?

 

“Sigh…..this again.”

 

Second thought?

 

“You have got to be kidding me.”

 

Unfortunately it isn’t a joke or a typo and this is not an isolated thing at many races in the Pacific Northwest – specifically in and around Oregon. Worse is that quite a few in the local cycling community (which include racers, officials, promoters) don’t have an issue with this.

 

I do. Let me explain.

 

When I was growing up racing in the Midwest you quickly learned that if there wasn’t neutral support (like the local bike shop supporting the event) and you didn’t bring a spare set of wheels to put into the pit or follow vehicle (if there was one) at your local bike race  and you flatted then you were SOL. It was your responsibility to make sure that you took care of this (or that your team did).

 

Let me repeat that.

 

IT WAS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO MAKE SURE THAT YOU PROVIDED SPARE WHEELS TO THE PIT OR FOLLOW CAR.

 

I have been bike racing for 38 years. I have always made sure that I place a spare set of wheels in the pit or follow car. If I was on a team I always made sure that we had at least a couple of sets of wheels in the pit or follow car for the team. Every clinic that I have given to local club teams I have made sure to stress this. Just last Saturday I spoke with three of my athletes and asked if they had done this (1 out of the 3 answered correctly – teaching moment….).

 

Because here is the thing, you go to all of the trouble to train, maybe you pay money to a coach, you invest money in all of your equipment then you drive to a race (sometimes hours there and back), you spend money on fuel to get there and the entry fee and etc. etc….But you don’t bring a spare set of wheels. You line up, the race starts and then at some point in the race you get a puncture and just like that your race is done. All because you left something to chance, something that you had some control over – PUTTING A SPARE SET OF WHEELS IN.

 

Here is the other part of “Wheels you bring may be issued to other riders in the event of puncture during the race.” – Why?

 

If I take the responsibility to bring my own wheels to a race, why should I have to provide them to someone who doesn’t take that same responsibility?

 

AND, what happens if I need a wheel but it was given out to someone else already?

 

AND, who is going to replace my spare wheels if given to someone else and they damage the wheel or puncture the tire or worse – take off with my wheel? (Depending on the race I have often put a second set of carbon tubulars in the pit/ follow car).

 

Years ago when I was the sport director for a local domestic elite team we raced a stage race in Oregon. This race had a “caravan” (I think there may have been all of 4 cars in it). I was informed by the Chief Official that since we had a car in the caravan then I would also have to provide support to riders on other teams that did not have that “luxury”. When I asked why I was informed that we had an “unfair advantage” (or maybe it was the other teams were at a disadvantage) because we had a support car and many others did not.

 

In essence, because the organization that I worked for had taken the responsibility to pursue sponsorship and were successful in procuring enough financial support to purchase a team car and pay me to run the team and go to races we also had to take care of the other teams and riders that did not.

 

Look, I am not opposed to helping out someone I know who needs something in a pinch but if I am told “Wheels you bring may be issued to other riders in the event of puncture during the race,” well I have a problem with that. Because if I take the responsibility to control one of the things that I can control why should I also be forced to shoulder the responsibility for someone who did not?

 

Take responsibility.

 

Control what you can control.

 

 

 

 

MAKE THE TIME

You claim that you want [insert goal here].

Then in the very next breath you state that you just don’t have the time to do all of the things required.

Well guess what? People make the time to do the things that they really want to do.

So I ask you – do you really want to reach that goal or do that thing that you claim you want?

Then make the time.

Or you can just keep making excuses.

But keep them to yourself because I don’t have the time to listen.

 

THE RECIPE

The following piece entitled The Recipe was written by my friend Mark Twight back in 2011. Mark graciously gave me permission to repost it here. I first saw it when it appeared as one of his Sunday Sermons from the GJ days. More recently it has been posted on the Nonprophet website.

In the past few weeks I have been reading through all of Mark’s Sermons to help him out with a project that is in the works. Many of Mark’s Sermons are gold. The Recipe was one that jumped out at me reading it on a flight from Detroit to Salt Lake last month. I landed in Salt Lake that evening with energy to burn. Fueled by Mark’s writing and a few glasses of wine I made a beeline to the NPEC where I found Mark and Mike Thurk just returning from dinner. The decision was made to open up the NPEC Conversation Room (and sometimes cocktail bar) and blend the two. We ended up talking about the new project and The Recipe. That conversation just dropped as Episode 86 of The Dissect Podcast. Try to ignore the fact that I may be a few bottles in by the end of the podcast because there is some good content there.

In the meantime, here is The Recipe. Enjoy.

 

A couple of months back our friend Joel from Men’s Fitness UK asked me to write a pithy quote about our training philosophy. He might have even offered a paragraph. Sometimes over-delivering is the right thing but it is rarely true for the written word. Less is always more. But I just couldn’t. I waited until the energy coalesced around an idea, switched on the machine and let it rip. I figured he could pull what he thought most powerful from the text. I haven’t seen how it turned out but I did see it referred to so I presume my Recipe was published. I looked it over recently and thought it could use a bit more flesh on the bone so I added some.

 

So here’s the recipe. Some ingredients are hard to come by, and even more difficult to prepare.

 

Recognize the need for change.

 

Revolt against old behavior and habits.

 

Resolve to be consistent and persistent.

 

Define Point B: what you want to achieve, clearly.

 

Define Point A: an honest, unsentimental account of your present state.

 

Decide on a deadline, and give yourself a penalty for missing it. Be realistic.

 

Design the training program: seek guidance.

 

In short, build a solid foundation, write a long training history, and accept a longer trajectory. If you need it three months from now you should have started three months ago. At least. There are no shortcuts. This is a long- term process and it should last for the rest of your life. You will not “arrive”.

 

Do not over-emphasize the physical. I’ll say it again, “the physical part is easy.” You will fail first in your head. Always. Or talk yourself out of it. If you keep saying it’s hard, it will be. If you treat training as a chore, it’s drudgery. The pretense of difficulty is just an invitation for social feedback. Do you really need an audience? Do you need affirmation from others – who are probably lying anyway? Leave them out of it. If it depends on them they can revoke it at any time. But when you earn it you get to keep it.

 

Change your attitude. Unfuck your head. Make an honest, unsentimental accounting of your present condition. Prepare to be disappointed. Define what you want instead, clearly. By clear I mean precise, and feasible. An unrealistic objective is sure to sabotage the process. Hit the books. Try and err. Inquire. Risk. Mimic. Insist. Resist.

 

When the voice inside says, “no” take another step.

 

When the voice invites you to quit, don’t.

 

When you think you can’t go further, bluff.

 

When you are certain you have given everything you have, when you bluffed and got called, when you went further or harder than you believed you could, and know that in a few months you will look back without second- guessing or regrets, it will be OK to fail. But do take notes.

 

After you fail – and you will – show up the next day. And the day after that. If you can’t train, watch. If you can’t see, listen. If you truly want to learn you can learn from everything. Eventually, you will. And you will take what you know and DO, and keep doing it, and the road will rise to meet you.

2019 DERBY DAYS REGISTRATION NOW OPEN!

The Seattle area criterium season is underway and registration for the 79th Annual Redmond Derby Days Criterium is now open!

To register follow this link:

2019 Redmond Derby Days Criterium Registration

Pre-registration will be open until Thursday, July 11, 2019 at 10:00 pm. Pre-reg and save (we handle the admin. fee!)

Don’t miss out on the chance to win some cash from the area’s biggest single day prize list ($7500 cash total including primes!)